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Ayurvedic Herbology

1. Using Yantra in Ayurvedic Herbalism
2. Bhasma Therapy: Panacea or Poison?
3. Ayurvedic View on Rasa Shastra Metallic Medicines or Bhasmas
4. Ethnopharmacology and Traditional Medicine - Exploring Challenges and Opportunities

Using Yantra in Ayurvedic Herbalism

by Prashanti De Jager

Yantra simply means ‘device’ in Sanskrit, and similar to devices like radios that tune into certain frequencies, yantras both tune into and amplify very specific vibrations that are salubrious to our herbal intentions. How does this spell healing to the Ayurvedic practitioner and their client? There are many reasons but here are some to ponder.

Yantra - Good for the Herbs
The Yantra is considered to be a geometrical equivalent of a mantra, and so it is about generating or modulating vibrational energy. Since the Yantra is more static, the vibration is steady, like a standing wave ‘trapped’ or ‘channeled’ by boundaries and filters. It also tends to be precise more often than a mantra. This particular vibration enhances the power of the herbs; it is like having a Gyoto monk or a Kashi pujari personally attending the herbs and continuously chanting empowering mantras. In fact, when using mantras to empower herbs, I have found that first directing the mantra through a yantra seems to focus the power of my sankalpa (intention). As Vamadeva points out, it creates a pattern in the herbs that will more effectively hold mantras.
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Prashanti studied the Vedic Sciences in India for most of the past decade, is now on the staff of Rishekesh College of Ayurveda in India. He helps direct a large organic herb project in India. Contact information: prashanti@igc.org Tel: 888-550-VEDA

Bhasma Therapy: Panacea or Poison?

by Jay Glaser, M.D.

Rasa, the Sanskrit name for an organism’s primordial essence, its plasma or sap, is also the ancient name for mercury. Formerly called quicksilver for its shimmering elemental liquid form that breaks into dozens of globules when shaken, mercury is held by many Ayurvedic physicians to be sacred because of its life-giving properties.

There is an Ayurvedic principle stating that the greatest of all remedies, taken improperly, can be a poison; and the worst poison, taken properly, can be the greatest of remedies. In no field of Ayurveda does this apply so aptly as the discipline of rasashastra. These texts are the description of how to prepare mercury bhasmas (The Sanskrit word bhasama literally means ashes, thus mercury bhasma means ashes of mercury.)

It is in this light that we have to consider an original research article presented in the December 15, 2004 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) showing that fifteen of 70 different Ayurvedic products of Indian origin found in Asian grocery stores in the Boston area had levels of lead, mercury and arsenic that were above the amount considered safe.

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Jay Glaser, MD, is board certified in internal medicine and is medical director of the Lancaster Ayurveda Medical Center in Sterling, MA. Many of his articles and research on Ayurveda are available on his web site: www.AyurvedaMed.com. Request his free newsletter via email: subscribe@AyurvedaMed.com. Tel: 978-422-5044

Ayurvedic View on Rasa Shastra Metallic Medicines  or Bhasmas

by Dr.Patap Chauhan

Historically, Rasa Shastra or “Vedic Chemistry”, is an offshoot of Ayurveda that developed around the period when Buddha existed, more than 2500 years ago. This special branch of medicine is called Rasa shastra.Rasa shastra describes the use of metals, gems, minerals and poisons to produce special formulations that combat acute conditions or serious diseases. This science is often referred to as “alchemy” and the resultant medications are called rasas which mainly comprise of metallic ashes called bhasmas. According Rasendra Mangal of Nagarjuna (chapter 1, verse7-9) these bhasmas, or lighter forms of metals, are contained in organo-metallic compounds that work as carriers (yogavahi). This means they are able to carry the herbs mixed with them faster to the desired site and start the action immediately. They act as catalysts and increase the bioavailability of the herbs to the cell. After performing the desired action, the bhasmsas are eliminated through our excretory systems, specifically via mutra and mala (urine and stool).

Bhasmas can help patients who have tried all other medical solutions and have lost hope to recover. (Rasendra Mangal of Nagarjuna chapter 1, verse 10). They are often called ‘life saving’ or ‘miracle’ medicines and are preferred in acute situations or in grave illness due to their rapid action. They are considered to be the life saving drugs of Ayurveda and work wonders like the ‘steroids’ of modern medicine.

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Dr. Partap Chauhan (Ayurvedacharya) is an author, educator and master Ayurvedic physician. He is the founder of Jiva Ayurveda, India and has traveled to more than 25 countries to teach Ayurveda and help patients suffering mainly from the so-called “incurable diseases”. Dr. Chauhan has been a pioneer in telemedicine, developing TeleDoc, and receiving the best ehealth project award from the United Nations in December, 2003. Website: www.ayurvedic.org.

Ethnopharmacology and Traditional Medicine - Exploring Challenges and Opportunities

by Amritpal Singh and Sanjiv Duggal

With the isolation of quinine from Cinchona in 1820, an ancient herbal cure was transformed into a chemical drug. This was the inspiration for a new scientific discipline - ethnopharmacology - as Western scientists began to reinvent traditional herbal cures by extracting their active principles to make new and profitable drugs. The Chinese government may claim many such success stories as their own, but such triumphant narratives only reveal part of the story. The drawn-out hunt for the active principle of another anti-malarial herb, changshan, or Dichroa febrifuga, offers a more nuanced narrative that captures the complex interplay between traditional Chinese and Western medicine.
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Amritpal Singh, Senior Lecturer, Lovely School of Applied Medical Sciences, Dept of Ayurvedic Pharmaceutical Sciences, Lovely Professional University, Phagwara (India) and Sanjiv Duggal, Senior Lecturer, Lovely School of Applied Medical Sciences, Dept of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Lovely Professional University, Phagwara (India)

Address for correspondence:

Dr. Amritpal Singh
2101, Ph-7, Mohali-160062


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